You’ve Heard of Lemon Pledge, and Multi-Purpose Pledge, but how about Libertarian Pledge?

Posted on April 22, 2010 by

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This is the first in a series of writings concerning my opinions on the Libertarian Party Platform.  I’m going to start with the Libertarian Party pledge, and work my way through the current platform.  I’m hoping this may clear up some common misconceptions about the Libertarian Party.   I also need to point out here that this is simply my opinion on these issues, and not the party line.

The Libertarian Party pledge is required to be taken by all members.  It states “I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.”  So, what does that mean?  Does that mean Libertarians are against war? Does it mean Libertarians are against the second amendment?  Does it mean Libertarians are against boxing or wrestling?  I’ll answer these questions, but first, I want to explain the pledge.

The Libertarian Party pledge was written in 1971 by one of the founders of the party, David Nolan.  It’s original purpose was to protect the party from any allegations of seeking a violent overthrow of the US Government.  Libertarians are the only party willing to stand up and say if we have to FORCE people to do something to achieve our goals, they are not goals worth having.  Republicans and Democrats DO support the use of force to gain political or social goals, Libertarians do not.

The pledge isn’t popular with all Libertarians.  Some Libertarians believe that it drives people away from joining the party.  They believe it is too restrictive, and let’s face it, the Republicans and Democrats don’t make you sign a pledge to join, so shouldn’t the Libertarian Party just be happy to have members??  I say no.  By making members certify this pledge, they are certifying that they believe in the most basic principles of liberty.  They believe that people should not be forced to do something they don’t want to do.  Now, some people may say “But Mat, you are forcing people to take this pledge to become a member of the Libertarian Party.”  And my simple answer is this; they don’t have to become a member of the party to be a Libertarian!

I would point out that there is one key word in the pledge that some people overlook, and I feel it is the most important word in the pledge, and that is INITIATE.  Libertarians basically take a pledge not to BEGIN the use of force to achieve their goals.  Does that mean we are anti-military?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  In fact, a good number of Libertarians, including myself, are prior military members!  However, we don’t believe that we should start wars just for the sake of gain.  War should only be used as a means for defending the country. Should we have invaded Iraq?  Well, we did think they had weapons of mass destruction.  Oh wait, no we didn’t, we were just told they did by a government hell-bent on going to war.  THAT, in my mind, is the initiation of force that we should not have taken.  But what about Afghanistan?   Afghanistan didn’t attack us, Al-Qaeda did, right?  Yes, but we knew that the Taliban supported Al-Qaeda and housed Al-Qaeda, and they attacked us.  They initiated force, and we responded, and that is allowed with the Libertarian Party Pledge.

If we move to the individual, what does this pledge mean?  Does it mean I can’t defend myself? Absolutely not!  Because the act of self-defense is not initiating force, it is responding to the initiation of force.  So if someone breaks into your house, you have the right to defend your life and your property. What if I’m at a tea party rally and someone decides to be a jerk at the protest?  Can I hit him?  Well, I would say no, not unless he hits you first.  Remember, Libertarians believe very strongly in the Constitution, and the right to peaceably assemble, as well as the freedom of speech, clearly doesn’t just apply to you. They apply to everyone, even those who disagree with you.  Now, if said jerk attacks you physically, then game on! You have the right to defend yourself!

Obviously the question about boxing and wrestling is a setup.  But here’s my answer:  You aren’t initiating force by boxing or wrestling.  It’s a job, where two parties have consented to beat the crap out of each other, and get paid for it.  The only social goals you are pursuing at that point is advancement in the financial realm, and I say go for it!  The more people making their own money, the less people on unemployment and welfare!

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